Happy workers are productive workers, says the old adage, but what about healthy workers?
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- Well-considered health and wellbeing initiatives can boost employee performance.
- Team challenges, such as marathon running, can improve staff camaraderie.
- Healthy-eating workshops can help staff take responsibility for their own health.
Logic dictates that healthier workers will also be more productive and motivated to put more discretionary effort into their role. Research from HR recruitment firm Ortus found that 52% of its HR professional respondents said gym and exercise breaks would boost their work levels.
So how can employers energise their staff? A good starting point is to understand the impact that health and wellbeing initiatives can have on a workforce, in light of the fact that many employees are spending more and more time at work and working harder while they are there.
Leanne Rigby, director at consultancy Feel Good, says: “Anything that employers can do to make the working environment more enjoyable for staff, and to help them look after themselves, makes for a much nicer place to work, and employees will be more productive as a result.”
Feel Good works with employers on health and wellbeing initiatives, which include team and corporate challenges, such as running a marathon. This can help to build engagement by creating goals for employees.
“It is one of the best things an organisation can do for its staff in terms of camaraderie, getting everyone fit, and giving everyone a personal goal to work towards,” says Rigby. “It becomes a major task that a lot of employees [in the organisation] are working towards.”
Initiatives that promote healthy eating, or healthy food in the workplace are also attracting interest from employers. Oliver Gray, managing director and founder of EnergiseYou, says: “We encourage employers to get rid of biscuits, sweets and too much coffee in meeting rooms, and have fruit, water and herbal teas.
“If employers have a canteen, they should make sure there are healthy options. If I was coaching an employee one-to-one, I would say ’make sure whatever food you have at home is healthy, because you will naturally have a better diet’. It’s the same with the workplace.”
Healthy cooking classes are also proving popular with both employers and staff. These teach employees about healthy food preparation and recipes, especially for breakfast and lunch.
Feel Good’s Rigby says: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day in terms of balancing blood sugar levels and fuelling metabolism in the morning, and giving you energy for the day.
“Employers can have a great impact on how energised their workforces are by encouraging people to eat well.”
Fitness and wellbeing classes are also a useful tool employers can use to energise their staff. For example, lunchtime clubs for walking, pilates or kickboxing can enable staff to take up activities they would not normally have time for.
Employers could also consider workshops and seminars that encourage staff to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. Topics could include nutrition, sleep and mental resilience, which employers could address individually or collectively.
Webinars are another method to engage with staff. EnergiseYou’s Gray says: “Workshops over the web are quite useful for employers that have offices UK-wide or internationally.
“Any employee can dial in to a webinar and interact over the web. This is really about coaching people to make simple changes to their lifestyle to improve their energy.”
The key for employers that want to energise staff is to be more innovative in the way they engage with them.
Dave Priestley, sales director at PruHealth, says: “Traditionally, employers have used their benefits as a way of trying to engage with, and energise, their workforces, and they are beginning to realise that the traditional model for a lot of benefits does not do that as effectively as it could.
“Doing that effectively is partly about tailoring [schemes] and making sure that the kinds of things employers can do to help employees to be healthy needs to reflect the population they are trying to talk to and engage with.”